Hornchurch charity champion, 87, to carry the Olympic torch

A marathon-mad Hornchurch pensioner will be carrying the Olympic torch through Barking and Dagenham in July.

Paul Freedman MBE, 87, has raised over �100,000 for charity with events including 21 London marathons.

He was nominated to carry the Olympic flame by organisations including St Francis Hospice and his running club, the Havering ’90 Joggers.

He said: “When I heard about the relay I knew I had to do it.

“I’m getting my torch just before the Games start and the first thing I’m going to do is fill it with ice cream.

“I tried to get tickets for some events but they were too expensive. I’m just happy to be carrying the torch.”

Paul has not yet been told which route he will be running through Barking and Dagenham on July 22 but supporters from St Francis Hospice and friends will be there to cheer him on.

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He has raised money for the hospice since they cared for his late wife, Renee, before she died in 2007.

Nearly �8,000 was given to the hospice after this year’s marathon alone.

Paul also raises money with comedy group The Entertainers.

The incredible work has not gone unnoticed. As well as an MBE in 2008, he was nominated for Channel 4 home makeover show ‘You Deserve This House’ last year.

Paul said: “I felt honoured because I do my volunteering and fundraising to help others, not for rewards.

“We liked 90 per cent of what they did but we changed the other 10 to be more our style.”

Since he started running at the age of 61, Paul has competed in as many half-marathons, fun runs and races as he can.

The octogenarian, who spends “half of [his] life” in the gym, has no plans for slowing up and toning down his sporting antics.

He said: “I’m hoping to run the marathon every year until I’m 90 and after that I’ll figure out what to do if I’m still around.”

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